(The Picket)- For many this Election Day the race for president has taken the main spotlight, but local political races are no less important and often have more impact in day-to-day lives.
This year’s West Virginia gubernatorial race is a varied and contested race, featuring not simply two main party candidates but five listed candidates of different parties, among them Mountain Party candidate, 67 year old, Charlotte Pritt, who spoke with the Picket Monday, Oct. 31, about her campaign for governor as well as her hopes and goals for West Virginia.
Pritt is the first women elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates and the first candidate asked to run under multiple party tickets in West Virginia, as well as experience with the House Finance Committee for the state budget.
She refers to the Mountain Party as “a fascinating group of West Virginians who are really focused on the issues,” also saying that it is “exciting to run for this merging of ideas.” Unifying the legislature and the people of West Virginia is an important issue for Pritt, who likes running third party because it puts her in a position to interact with other parties and voters with less tension.
“We used to have a lot of party faction here. Your grandfather might make you swear on his death bed you better vote Republican,” she said. “I like being here because when people ask me are you a Democrat? I can say well no. Then they’ll ask, are you a Republican? I can say no, I’m neither, I’m Mountain Party, and both parties will still talk to me.”
When asked about the often heard in elections statement to not vote for a third party as it’s throwing away your vote, Pritt said, “In all the other democracies in the world they find this very odd, most other countries have multiple parties.”
She also referenced a conversation with a Morgantown voter who emigrated to the U.S. from Lithuania and had lived there under Russian rule
“I asked her how many political parties they had there, she told me 10. I asked if they all get to debate. She said yes of course,” she said.
Pritt was not invited to the gubernatorial debate as a third party candidate, but had in 1996, invited other third party candidates to her debates when running for House of Delegates on the Democratic ticket. She was not alone. Two of the five candidates were allowed to debate, excluding the Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates as well.
Pritt names diversifying the economy of West Virginia as one of her most important issues.
“We need to provide economic opportunities for every West Virginian. We do not offer enough opportunities for our young people,” she said. Pritt pointed out the wage difference between West Virginia teachers and educators in other nearby states like Maryland, noting, “We pay our teachers almost $25,000 less than the teachers in some contiguous states.”
Pritt supports the idea of student loan forgiveness for West Virginia students.
An additional item that she wants to push forward for the help our economy is the legalization of cannabis for medical, recreational, and industrial use as hemp.
“I am very much in favor of what Colorado did with the decimalization and legalization of marijuana,” she said. “We [West Virginia] are spending $17 million a year on the incarceration of non-violent users of cannabis. Why not instead of spending money on it turn it around and make money on it?” She also noted that Colorado is getting ready to propose universal health care as a result of the money made from legal cannabis.
Pritt says the one the one message she wants to send her younger voters is, “Don’t give up. I see great things, I am so inspired by younger voters. Our younger voters are our most informed and they look beyond party lines. I ask them to look at my voting record, and the issues. I will never give up on you. Please don’t give up on us, don’t give up on West Virginia, and don’t give up on this country. Just don’t give up.”
For more information on Pritt visit her website at www.charlottepritt4gov.com .
Jessica Sharpless is a reporter for The Picket and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org